Of Courses

December 11, 2008 | 47 comments
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I recieved one of those continuing education catalogs in the mail today (from Lehman College, not BYU), and glancing through it, I began to wonder why the courses are all very basic. The courses are all introductory, and seem to be for those looking to start a career in relatively low-skill professions. I suppose there is good reason for this–colleges offer courses that people want to take. But with the rise of the Internet and “distance learning” shouldn’t  the reverse be happening also? Shouldn’t these tools result in a lot of small, narrowly-focused courses, more academic in nature? Perhaps even courses that are more narrow and more open than what can be provided when students are seeking degrees? There might not be enough students at one university for these narrow courses, but there may be enough students at 10 or 100 universities or more.

For example, what about courses in Mormon Studies?

A few courses in Mormon Studies do exist, of course. But while they aren’t all at BYU, those courses also are not available to all that would like to take them. And, in general, they are available only to those who are currently seeking degrees at one of the Universities that offer them.

Of course, I don’t claim to know very well what makes people take courses. I understand that the degree is a powerful incentive–one that makes us pay tens of thousands of dollars to work hard to learn. I’m sure that the vast majority of people don’t see much need for the kind of additional education I’m talking about–especially if they have to pay money for it, or if it doesn’t lead to a degree that actually helps them in their temporal lives.

But I also see some people who are like me–interested in learning in depth in those subjects that interest us. Isn’t there a few hundred or a thousand people interested in Mormon Studies courses?

I think that the corpus of academics exist to further ideas like this. We have hundreds of Mormon academics who are qualified and seem interested in Mormon Studies. In the past decade new Mormon Studies groups have popped up fairly frequently, paying attention to new academic areas and increasing the number of areas being studied.

I don’t know how realistic a prospect is the idea of Mormon Studies courses available to people like me–those no longer attending a University and not living neara University that might be expected to teach a Mormon Studies course. I don’t even know much about distance learning and how such courses might be taught. Is the technology ready for such courses? Could it be applied to an on-line, distance-learning open university or college? I don’t know.

I just wish some courses were available to me.

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47 Responses to Of Courses

  1. Tony on December 11, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Courses in Mormon Studies don’t put food on the table or help one out of a lifetime of minimum wage jobs. “Basic” courses and ones “for those looking to start a career in relatively low-skill professions” do.

    Let me guess, you’re a lawyer, right?

  2. Jettboy on December 11, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Totally agree with Tony, especially smaller schools. Even my going to Ricks college (now BYU-I) was more about getting into the larger school by proving myself in a smaller one. As for those more complicated courses? Unless you plan on becoming a lawyer, engineer, scientist or some other very specific career then pick up several good books on the subject your interested in and become self taught. In fact, in the world of the Internet it is the complicated subjects that become easier to study, leaving you more time for going to college for the basics. It doesn’t sound intuitive – learning the hard stuff and then going to college for the basics – but I have known people who do that. That does beg the question of reliability of a self-taught Internet education, but it is much like the start of personal computers; garage startups.

  3. Kent Larsen on December 11, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Tony: WRONG!! I’m no lawyer.

    I recognize that basic courses can put food on the table.

    You apparently missed the part about these courses being for a small, targeted audience that isn’t large enough to be on any one University campus, let alone be at the local community college.

    I’m NOT saying that Mormon Studies courses need to be available everywhere or that they should take the place of the basic courses.

    I’m merely suggesting that there is an audience for this kind of course.

  4. Kent Larsen on December 11, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Jettboy, what does “smaller schools” have to do with it? I never suggested that these courses be taught at ANY school, let alone smaller schools!!

    I will admit that you have a point with the rest of your comment. But I don’t think it goes very far. Yes, I can pick up books and teach myself (and I have been). But learning that way looses a lot.

    Have you ever tried to talk to someone about a subject you studied in school and they know only from being self taught through a book? Its often quite frustrating. They often don’t have the structure to really understand what they have read — especially if the book wasn’t meant to cover the field in a comprehensive way. [Even though I have only had 4 or 5 economics courses in my studies, I find this to be true whenever I end up discussing economic issues of politics. Its one of those things that makes me believe economics should be a required subject in high school.]

    I think you are dismissing a little too easily the value of structured courses that include an instructor and feedback.

    Based on your suggestion, perhaps instead of Sunday School each week, we should simply let people study at home by themselves from whatever book about LDS doctrine they find interesting? Obviously all that effort spent in creating manuals was a waste of time.

  5. Jettboy on December 11, 2008 at 10:50 am

    “Based on your suggestion, perhaps instead of Sunday School each week, we should simply let people study at home by themselves from whatever book about LDS doctrine they find interesting? Obviously all that effort spent in creating manuals was a waste of time.”

    I don’t know if I would go that far. However, I wouldn’t be the last person, especially on the blogernacle, that have pretty much said this. Now, having a structured list of possible reading material and an avenue to discuss those is a very good idea. That is lacking in self-taught courses. What I was saying (with an admited bias toward self-taught) is what is happening and not if it is ideal. I did question the reliability of that kind of approach.

  6. Adam Greenwood on December 11, 2008 at 11:02 am

    This is a great idea, Kent L.

    The modern-day Chatauquas (sp.?) are things like the Teaching Company, which provides quality lectures on CD or MP3. I can certainly see an audience for something like this from FARMS, for instance.

  7. Matt W. on December 11, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Kent L. – Are you looking for something in addition to Institute or wishing Institute were more robust or convenient? My wife goes to an institute class on Friday mornings which she really enjoys, but you’d probably consider it a “Basic” course.

    The church provides a wealth of lectures online, whether from Farms, BYU, General Conference, Sunstone, Fair, etc. There is also a wealth of books being published like David Paulson’s “Mormonism in Dialougue with Contemporary Christian Theologies”

  8. Kent Larsen on December 11, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Adam (6) and Matt W (7):

    I was hoping for something a little more structured than this. Lectures are all fine and good. But isn’t a course more than a bunch of lectures strung together? At least there is an attempt to “cover the subject” in a thorough way. And shouldn’t there be some discussion or homework?

    Matt W., I probably would consider the Institute course a bit basic (please note, that this is NOT a judgement of those taking the course). Its also got a bit of a different focus than I hoped for — a faith-promoting focus instead of an academic approach. I’m NOT saying those are incompatible, I’m just suggesting that both are useful.

    Institute, while widely available, is very much limited to subjects that CES deems useful in supporting the members of the Church. There isn’t any Mormon Literature course, no courses in the sociology of Mormonism, little on philosophy, and the history is oriented toward the scriptures and Church doctrine, instead of the Mormon people.

    I’m NOT saying there is anything wrong with Institute or what is taught there. Its fine as far as it goes. Sure it could be more “robust or convenient,” but I don’t see CES ever believing that Mormon Literature is the kind of subject worth teaching, in spite of Orson F. Whitney’s prediction that “we shall yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own.” So, I think I’m looking for something in addition to Institute.

  9. queuno on December 11, 2008 at 11:51 am

    we shall yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own

    But you won’t find them at Deseret Book.

  10. Adam Greenwood on December 11, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Kent L.,
    The more burden you add to the students, the more you winnow your audience. The more burden you add to the instructor, the less likely you are to have one (or the more expensive the instruction gets, and therefore the more you winnow your audience). This doesn’t make your idea impossible but it does make your niche even smaller.

  11. TMD on December 11, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Actually, Kent, I don’t think that there is enough of an audience for this, and I really doubt that there are people with the time necessary to prepare and lead such a course. For as your responses suggest, it’s not just a question of a general ‘mormon studies’ course, it’s rather about more specified topics within ‘mormon studies.’ Doing a real course in any of the topics mentioned–mormon literature, mormon sociology, etc., requires an audience who already know something about literature, sociology, etc. if it is to be meaningful. Otherwise, the course becomes a mormon-flavored intro to lit, intro to sociology, etc. The other reason I doubt that a potential audience really exists is that doing an effective course like this requires people who are willing and able to devote a considerable amount of time on a weekly basis to it–say, at least 6 hours between reading and course time, and probably more like 10+–for something like fifteen straight weeks. Last, the people who are qualified to teach these sorts of classes are already teaching and in at least some cases, researching. To teach a mormon soc class that would be more than just a discussion group led by a dilletante, you need someone with at minimum an MA from a decent school, and preferably someone with a PhD. These people tend to be busy…and being that it would probably be a low paying endeavor, it would be likely that they would not be able to given it enough time and effort to be a really serious and legitimate thing.

    My suggestion, then, is if you have an interest in the sociology of mormonism (etc.), you go out and take several courses in sociology and the sociology of religion–enough to understand its methods and key theoretical approaches– and then get into the actual literature yourself. Without the underlying grounding, you’ll be a lot more susceptible to misunderstanding what you’re reading.

  12. Kent Larsen on December 11, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Adam (10): Noted.

    Since I’m not actually starting a course, I’m not too worried about it. I’m just trying to get an idea of what people think about the idea and what alternatives they see.

    But, I should mention that one of the great and truly important aspects of the Internet is its ability to gather together very small, niche groups.

    A large part of my question is, shouldn’t the Internet make this idea possible, since all you need are a few dozen students willing to take on the course requirements?

    And if it does make it possible, then why haven’t we seen courses in other subjects yet? What am I missing?

  13. Kent Larsen on December 11, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    TMD (11):

    You are probably right. But I do think some of your assumptions may not be completely correct.

    First, I disagree that the audience for these courses needs to be as knowledgeable as you claim. I was assuming that the courses were equivalent to undergraduate courses, not graduate courses. And I’ve long thought that it would be possible to do a survey course of Mormon literature that was aimed at a high school level, if you chose texts carefully. It might not be particularly academic, but it would give participants an overview of Mormon literature and where it is now.

    Second, your assumption about the amount of time students would put into the class seems based on what is required of similar University courses with a similar timetable. Couldn’t the workload and timetable be relaxed?

    I do see that this wouldn’t be very attractive to the instructor (in addition to the reasons you mentioned, teaching a course like this wouldn’t lead to tenure or advance a career at all). But what about all those whose careers have stalled — the equivalent of Prairie Home Companion’s proverbial English graduates who are now working ad McDonalds (or so the joke goes). Perhaps we aren’t likely to get much out of them either.

    I do agree that without a good grounding or a structured course, just reading is liable to lead to misunderstanding — which is why I suggested a course in the first place.

    Despite the reservations above, I guess I won’t be surprised if you are right.

  14. TMD on December 11, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    two reasons I assumed what I did.

    1. Given that this would have the flavor of a ‘special topics’ course, I actually did think of it as an undergraduate level course–most likely a ’300′ or ’400′ level course (and I’ve written 7 of them, so I have a sense of what I’m talking about). If you do anything else, it falls either into a ‘reading group’ or it turns into an intro course with a flavor, because the instructor must explain basic points all the way through. It may be somewhat less true with lit than soc., but really, it you want to get into the mormon-ness rather than just the literatureness, you really have to start with some pre-requisites.

    2. If you don’t have that kind of a schedule, I don’t think there’s enough on-going concentration on the subject matter, and if you don’t have that work-load, I don’t think you’re getting into the real stuff. In the absence of this kind of schedule and work expectation, thinking becomes more superficial, coverage of material becomes more cursory, and people don’t make the connections on their own that are the stuff of creative learning as well. If it doesn’t feel like you’re working, you’re probably not getting much out of it.

    3. They’re working at McDonald’s for a reason…

  15. Hunter on December 11, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Kent Larsen: I would be one of those interested in such a course. Yes, reading Mormon-related books is great, but nothing beats the structure of a course combined with a little back-and-forth from an instructor. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I’m surprised that this hasn’t been done yet.

    (But, my vote probably doesn’t matter since I’m a lawyer.)

  16. queuno on December 11, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    An issue, though, comes down to who teaches. Just look at the Bloggernacle — you’d get vastly different Mormon Studies courses if each was taught by (to pick a few vastly different viewpoints) DKL, Ardis, Kaimi, Steve Evans, Geoff B, or anyone from FMH (this is in no way a criticism of any of them — just that you’d get 20 different perspectives on something so “simple” as MMM).

    Tell me who writes and teaches the course, and what their bias will be.

  17. Matt W. on December 11, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    we shall yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own

    fulfilled by Stephanie Myers.

  18. queuno on December 11, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    I suspect that when the Church produces a Milton or Shakespeare, we won’t know immediately it, because their Mormondom won’t be trumpeted and they won’t be a fav of the RS book club. They’ll be a great author with a familiar (to us) background but not something obviously noteworthy for inclusion into Meridian or the Deseret News.

    (Just like there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of great Mormon academics, but because they don’t come out and publish in obvious places, no one knows about them.)

  19. Kent Larsen on December 11, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    TMD (14): I think the Brazilian proverb might apply here: “If you don’t have a dog, hunt with a cat.” Let’s rescue those English majors from McDonalds!! [GRIN]

    Seriously, your objections have some merit. I don’t know if it truly makes the audience and the number of potential instructors too small. I suspect the only way to know for sure is to see someone give it a try.

  20. Kent Larsen on December 11, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Hunter (15) that makes two.

    Who else?

  21. Kent Larsen on December 11, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Matt W. (17): “fulfilled by Stephanie Myers.”

    Bwahahahahaha!!!

    Not even close.

  22. Kent Larsen on December 11, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    queuno (16): “Tell me who writes and teaches the course, and what their bias will be.”

    I was kind of hoping you would teach!!

    Aren’t you ready?

  23. Kent Larsen on December 11, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    queuno (18): “Just like there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of great Mormon academics, but because they don’t come out and publish in obvious places, no one knows about them.”

    I’ve been saying this same thing for years. And its not just academics–authors, actors, politicians, etc., there are a lot more of all of these who are LDS than most Mormons know.

  24. queuno on December 11, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Kent:

    I do have some experience teaching Mormon studies, all told, almost 10 years. Two were in Chile (1), 4 were spent teaching adult male Mormons (2), 2 were spent teaching a wide variety of ages (3), and almost two were spent teaching new members (4). I also received the virtual equivalent of an undergraduate minor in Mormon Studies (5).

    I didn’t develop any special coursework, though. And my ancestors crossed the plains (I won’t play the loathsome specific n-generation Mormon card, though). Does that qualify me as a Mormon Studies instructor?

    (1) – Mission
    (2) – Two stints in the EQ
    (3) – Two stints in a SS presidency and perma-SS sub
    (4) – Two stints as a stake missionary
    (5) – 14 credit hours in religion classes at BYU.

    :)

  25. queuno on December 11, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Oh, and I spent almost 4 years teaching Mormons to look for employment. :)

  26. queuno on December 11, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    In fact, the more that Mormon pop culture attempts to “out” prominent Mormons as “one of us”, the more some Mormons go underground in their public and professional lives. I know that the Romney campaign did much to drive some members underground, and so did Prop-8 (whether nor not Romney was blessed by the hand of God or that the Lord was directly revealing Prop 8 campaign literature are unimportant; just that many members of the Church don’t see any real benefit to mixing profession and religion).

  27. Rameumptom on December 11, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    I think Kent is on target here. One of the problems with being self-taught from books, or even the Internet, is there is little or no interaction. How does one ask questions or get direction, ideas, etc., without having an “expert” guide?

    As for Institute, it has two potential problems. First, in most areas it is geared to University students. My bishop is the Institute director, and I sub for him on occasion. Don’t bother going to class if you are not a student, and preferably a Young Single Adult student at that.

    Second, they adhere very closely to the manuals. Sometimes for those of us seeking advanced classes (which Institute classes are not), it means having our brains stretched in our understanding of issues. The Institute classes teach key basics in the doctrine. But you won’t have a discussion on the archaeology of the Book of Mormon, the views and stances taken on Prop 8, or how many angels can dance on the head of a pin (philosophy of religion). While these are of lesser importance when it comes to personal spirituality, they are significantly important when it comes to understanding the complete Mormon/LDS experience.

    Seminars are the usual method that is used in the Church for these things, but seminars usually don’t allow enough in depth discussion for students to completely vet out a concept.

  28. Mark B. on December 11, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    we shall yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own

    fulfilled by Stephanie Myers.

    It’s “Meyer”.

    Whether or not you think she’s a joke, at least get her name right.

    (And, on a completely different topic–did T&S really move somewhere “better” last weekend? If so, why didn’t you put it someplace where HTML tags are easy to apply?)

  29. Paul S on December 11, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    There are no Mormon Studies courses offered at BYU. In fact, BYU has been very adamant about this. It offers specific courses n religion and history but not what would generally be considered “Mormon Studies.” Thus, Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling is not an approved text for religion courses at BYU.

  30. NoCoolName_Tom on December 11, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    I took a Mormon Comparative Theology course at UVU taught by Brian Birch (I think the infamous narrator attended, too) a few years ago and loved it. I also attended Boyd Petersen’s Mormon Literature course, too (which he also teaches at BYU) although literature is not my thing as much as philosophy or biblical studies. Apart from some courses taught at some of the State Utah schools, I doubt there is much in the way of Mormon scholastics available to Mormons. Which is kinda odd since you can find some awesome Mormon Studies courses out in the Diaspora.

  31. Kent Larsen on December 11, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    queuno (24 & 25):

    I hate to say it Che, but your qualifications aren’t terribly impressive to most Mormons.

    BUT, as TMD has already made clear, we may have to be flexible about qualifications. If you work for free, I’m sure we can work something out [GRIN]

  32. Kent Larsen on December 11, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    queuno (26): This is something we should explore, but I think its off topic for this post.

  33. Kent Larsen on December 11, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Rameumpton (27):

    I had the opposite experience with the first Bishop we had here in NYC. He also was a CES instructor, but a liberal one, and he gave the best course in LDS philosophy that I’ve ever had.

    But I think CES eventually managed to push him out because he didn’t teach the way they wanted him to.

    Other than the odd exception like I saw, I agree that Institute just isn’t going to give us the kind of courses I’m talking about.

  34. Eric Russell on December 11, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    In addition to the Mormon lit classes, I would also consider David Paulsen’s upper level Philosophy of Religion class a “Mormon Studies” class.

  35. Kent Larsen on December 11, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Paul S. (29):

    I think this really depends on what your definition of “Mormon Studies” is. In its broadest sense, I think BYU has taught such courses for years. They aren’t called Mormon Studies, but any course that takes Mormonism as a principle subject could be considered Mormon Studies, as queuno points out.

    What are you saying would generally be considered “Mormon Studies”?

    In creating various inter-departmental “studies” programs, it sure seems like Universities pull together any and every course that covers the subject. So I’m not quite sure what you think the criteria would be for a course to be considered “Mormon Studies.”

  36. Sarah on December 11, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    In general I agree that it would make more sense for continuing education course catalogs to include more “advanced” courses (at the 300/400 level – and in Ohio State terms, 500-level [i.e., classes exclusively for seniors, honors students, and grad students]) However, there are so many pressures on the continuing ed model already, it’s going to take a while for a market to develop even in “standard” subjects. MIT’s OpenCourseWare has a lot of “advanced” class materials, but they don’t need to a) make money, b) appeal to anyone who wants to actually use something for a degree, c) provide any level of actual instruction or d) bother their faculty, to accomplish it.

    Fortunately, the extreme sticker cost of undergraduate education, the increasing numbers of people with high education levels who work in intellectually unchallenging jobs, and the general growth of the population are working in favor of “advanced” general interest education. Woot.

    But meantime, better to create “courses” that don’t require instructor intervention – a Mormon OCW site, basically.

  37. Paul S on December 12, 2008 at 9:58 am

    I’ll concede that Paulsen has taught some courses that would generally qualify as “Mormon Studies.” But such classes I think are offered on the sly as it were. Kent, for me the difference is between apologetics and analytics. I think BYU has long been very adamant to offer only courses that are strictly apologetic. I don’t have a good sense as to whether this is a good thing or not but I do think that generally the academy does not consider apologetics to qualify as Mormon Studies per se.

  38. Kent Larsen on December 12, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Sarah (36):
    I like your ideas. You are probably right that it will take a long time for the market to develop for more advanced courses.

    I don’t know much about OCW, but I do think some kind of Internet-based course would be attractive (at least to me).

  39. Kent Larsen on December 12, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Paul S. (37):
    I’ll conceed your distinction between apologetic courses and analytic courses. But I think the apologetic-analytic thing is probably more like a continuum than a duality. Some of the courses at BYU may not be as analytical as you or I would prefer, but I don’t think they are all as apologetic as most Institute courses.

    Gene England’s Mormon Literature classes would be a good example, I suspect (I never got the chance to take them). While Gene was very committed to the Church, I can’t imagine him not being intellectually honest. I’m sure that there are a lot more at BYU like him, so at least some of the Mormon Studies courses are likely analytical to some degree.

    BUT, none of this helps people like me. I don’t live anywhere near BYU and the courses I want aren’t taught by correspondence anyway.

  40. Paul S on December 12, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Kent, I think you’re probably right and my original post was overstatement. I especially agree with your point re Gene England. As far as “help[ing] people like me,” I’ve heard there’s an institute course taught in DC by an attorney that is very analytical and covers such issues as the documentary hypothesis and how this might impact the BoM. The role of the Reformers (Deutornomists) and how the theory that the Reformers removed the corporeal God and the idea that Jehovah (Yaweh) was God’s son and not Elohim might impact an understanding of the BoM (this sounds like Margaret Barker stuff). I wonder if such courses might alleviate the problem you describe (assuming that there are some scattered around the country that take this approach).

  41. Katherine Morris on December 12, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Gideon Burton has a list of Mormon Studies courses that have been taught at various universities. It’s not true that BYU does not have Mormon Studies courses, although they certainly don’t have any kind of Mormon Studies program.

    Here’s the list: http://gideonburton.typepad.com/gideon_burtons_blog/2008/02/mormon-studies.html

  42. Jim F. on December 12, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Paul S (#37): I don’t know what it would mean for BYU to be adamant to offer courses that are only apologetic. That is the general approach of the College of Religious Education, but it isn’t a university policy. Paulsen’s courses weren’t “on the sly” in any sense because the Philosophy Department doesn’t have the same policy that Religious Ed has (which is a consequence of the mission they’ve been assigned by the Board of Trustees). Any department that wishes to offer a course that would be considered a Mormon Studies course is free to do so. From #41, it appears that a number of them do so. There is no Mormon Studies program, though a number of us wish there were, but there is no university policy against or discouraging Mormon studies. If anything, there has recently been official encouragement for people to do things related to Mormon Studies. That’s one of the goals of the Maxwell Institute.

  43. queuno on December 13, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    I hate to say it Che, but your qualifications aren’t terribly impressive to most Mormons.

    Whew! I was getting worried there.

    You’ve seized on a key point — who among us would be terribly impressive to most Mormons. And be careful with the word “most”. How many Mormons would know who Givens is? And you haven’t quite determined who the right sort of teacher would be for this? There’s a world of difference between, say, Marlin Jensen and Richard Bushman or Sonia Johnson, when you talk about qualifications to talk about Mormon Studies…

  44. Rob Perkins on December 13, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    So, yeah… Define “most Mormons”. Are “Most Mormons” converts within the last 35 years or so, for example? Do they speak English as a first language? Etc…

  45. BevP on December 15, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Some of us are even farther away, big water between us, and few resources available up close, even if we speak English as first language. Much as I like the church study programs, as a university lecturer in another field, I’d be out on my ear fairly sharpish if I wanted to teach with a course text that has a reference list that ends about a generation ago. I would really enjoy a focused course of study, on some aspect of Mormon Studies, based in large measure upon recent scholarly research, by those in and out of the Church. My testimony can take enquiry. I just can’t spend the time on it that I need to keep my own research going. I want to be a plausible diletante, I guess, long as I keep working.

    We might begin with RSR – I want to read that again anyway, having read On the Road w JS. I know there are many resources to access online, but I just don’t know where to go for what, and probably wouldn’t stick it without someone to account to. It’s a bit like a kid being told to get in there and clean up that messy bedroom – I don’t know how to begin when there’s so much to find. I need someone to tell me the academic equivalent of “right, now go look for all the cars and trucks you can find and put them in this box”. I’d like to have someone to bounce ideas off of for [3 prepositions in a row!] ways to extend beyond the core of the course. Friends are great for sporadic exciting exchanges, but it’s not the same as an organized course framework.

    Or we could start a collection of typos in the Penguin BoM that might have interesting but inappropriate inferences made from them, and determine which were in the 1840 edition and which are new to Penguin. And I’m only writing this to avoid marking coursework… but I could get interested in some kind of a course.

  46. BevP on December 15, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    dilettante, soz, speaking of plausible…

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